Vanessa Brown was an Austrian-American actress who was successful in radio, film, theater, and television. Born Smylla Brynd in Vienna, Austria to Jewish parents, Brown and her family fled to Paris, France in 1937 to escape persecution with the rise of the Nazi Party.
Within a few years the family had settled in America and Brown auditioned for Lillian Hellman for a role in Watch on the Rhine. Fluent in several languages, the youngster impressed Hellman with her presence and authentic Teutonic accent, and she was signed as understudy to Ann Blyth, eventually doing the role of Babette on Broadway and in the touring production. In high school she wrote and directed school plays.
Her IQ of 165 led to two years of work as one of the young panelists on the radio series Quiz Kids, and she was also a junior member of the National Board of Review, the critical panel serving the motion picture industry. RKO Radio Pictures brought her family to Los Angeles, and Brown made her film debut in Youth Runs Wild. RKO changed her screen name to Vanessa Brown and assigned her to a series of ingenue roles over the next few years. In the late 1940s she was featured in The Late George Apley, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and The Heiress and other films. She was the eighth actress to play the role of Jane, appearing in Tarzan and the Slave Girl opposite Lex Barker, followed by a role in Vincente Minnelli's acclaimed The Bad and the Beautiful. Brown acted in live television dramas of the early 1950s, including Robert Montgomery Presents and The Philco Television Playhouse, and appeared on Pantomime Quiz and Leave It to the Girls. Back on Broadway, she originated the role of "The Girl" in The Seven Year Itch, the character portrayed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1955 film version. She continued to do much television through the 1950s, and was one of the narrators of the United World Federalists documentary Eight Steps to Peace, along with Vincent Price and Robert Ryan.